One Giant Step (Backward) for (Wo)Mankind


Let’s say you’re a highly intelligent, extremely accomplished married mother of two. Let’s further say that you are, fairly or unfairly, considered a hero and a role model because of the work that you do as an astronaut in our national Space Program. Let’s still further say that you have, as a woman, broken through a pink/glass ceiling in your field. So what on earth would possess you to don a diaper, gather a limp assortment of potential weaponry, drive nine hundred miles, slide into a trench coat and wig, stalk a woman thirteen years your junior to her car, and pepper spray her?

The headlines are appalling: “Astro-Nut,” “Space Cadet,” and “Lust in Space” flash across the television and internet (and probably newspaper for those of you who read them. Nudging Snuggles). How embarrassing. And all over the supposed love of or perhaps for a man who is “more than a working relationship but less than a romantic relationship,” whatever that means.

So let’s look at this case. According to the news reports that I couldn’t turn off last night, this astronaut has some sort of mental break (it HAS to be, right? who does that?) and drives from Houston to Orlando (about 900 miles according to CNN) in order to confront the woman she believes is involved with another astronaut that she herself claims not to be involved with. Hmmm. In addition, she packs along a BB gun and a four inch pocket knife (presumably, I think, the reason she didn’t fly), along with some rubber piping, rubber gloves, and whatever all else. She’s not on the DL, though, because she uses her own name and credit card to check into a hotel, and she must have stopped for gas along the way, too–so why not use the bathroom like a normal person? They found two, that’s two, used diapers in her car! It seems they were “special” astronaut diapers. Like that makes it okay or normal or even almost okay or nearly normal.

She was initially charged with attempted first degree murder which, given my extensive training in literature, I’d guess can’t stick because she had a friggin’ BB gun and a teensy little knife, not exactly your typical murder weapons of choice. And she DID choose them, AND she drove all the way or really half way across the country, so she had time to think this through. Very strange. Obviously, she is unhinged, right? But SO sad that it has to be over a man. And that she has to act that crazy–I mean who does that? And that she has two kids. And a husband. And that she didn’t pack a hairbrush or a lipstick along with her rubber hose and steel mallet.

Now NASA is going to review its screening process so they don’t end up with unstable nut jobs circling the earth for years at a time (the next Mars mission is supposed to last two years), but you know what that means, they’re going to closely screen all the female applicants and err on the side of caution, thus limiting the number of already limited women in the Space Program. It’s such a shame, really, and I truly hope that it doesn’t happen that way. But I fear that it will.


24 thoughts on “One Giant Step (Backward) for (Wo)Mankind

  1. Fuzzy, I thought long on this one as well. I thought of blogging it and still have to shake my head and wonder. I feel sorry for her.. but that’s just me. This is truly the Jerry Springer of all escapades. Unhinged is right. What could be so wrong with her life that she casts everything that she has out the window? What does this jerk have that has women going insane over him?

  2. i thought she was being charged with attempted kidnapping. as for why she did it, who can say. why does any person do crazy stuff? sure, the fact that she’s a woman probably makes it seem more newsworthy. plenty of people will make hormonal jokes and whatnot. and you’re probably right when you say that women will be more closely looked at from now on, when they’re being tested at nasa.

    now, if i had to guess, i’m going to say that it’s possible that she really is suffering from some sort of mental illness. or perhaps some form of brain injury. it’s been known to happen. if it had been a man, though, i wonder if there would be this much news coverage of it?

  3. Good questions, River; I don’t think it’s anything the guy has, though, it seems to be about this woman’s mental health (as Kerry says in the next comment). I feel sorry for her, too, and for her husband and children!

    Hey Kerry; yeah, I know what you mean here! I wonder, though, if the elements of this story just aren’t bizarre enough to get press attention whomever committed the act/crime? Astronaut. Parent/Spouse. Lover’s Triangle. Diapered drive across country. It’s strange enough to get attention, but you do wonder if they’d be talking about it in the same way if it were a man (I mean the hormonal jokes and stuff). Did the charge get reduced to attempted kidnapping? Excellent. Last night she was released on bond from a charge of attempted first degree murder. Or that’s what the news channels said. What’s her face, the one with the blonde hair who yells everything in a Southern accent?, she said that she doubted that charge would stick BECAUSE the judge let her out on bond (or bail or whatever, don’t know the legal terms . . . where’s Wyatt when you need him?). I guess she thought it suggested the state didn’t have enough to push the murder charge. I’m really glad if it’s been reduced to kidnapping, though, this woman needs help.

    Thanks both of you for your comments!! :))

  4. Well, I agree that it is regarding the screening process that NASA has for all candidates regardless of gender. If a male astronaut did the same stunt, the media would still be all over it. Being an Astronaut isn’t like being a Movie Star or a Basketball Pro. The public image until now is that all selected individuals for the Space Program are solid mentally and physically.

  5. You mean you don’t understand this?

    Hey, here’s my take: This woman had a boring life. Being an astronaut just wasn’t cutting it. So she saw a chance to make a leap into a strange and unexplored abyss. She’s gotten her 15 minutes of fame ~ which likely wasn’t ever going to come from NASA, not since Sally Ride and all ~ so now she can die happy. *giggles*

  6. I do feel sorry for her, but also wondering how low can you let your self esteem sink? Sad, sad, sad, and very funny in the same time.

  7. I’ve no idea what this is all about, it didn’t make the headlines over here, as far as I’m aware. But reading your article, all that came to mind was:

    ….”errrmm, Houston, we have a problem….”

  8. That’s true, River, though I’d not really thought of it. If asked, though, I would have guessed they are all pretty stable. Oops. :))

    lmao Jillene, that’s priceless!! Bored with being an astronaut . . . hehe

    I’ve not heard that saying before, Monty. Is it dirty? Or what? ‘Splain please . . . ?

    I agree, Fanta, as you can tell from my post; it IS both sad AND funny. And I think you have a point, too, about self esteem, which is strange because she was so intelligent and successful and before this bizarre trip not unfortunate looking. Guess you just never know.

    lmao, Mitch, perfect!! I wrote all the details for you folks who don’t live here; believe me, if you did you’d have heard of this one. It’s plastered everywhere! Though the details are noteworthy, so I would have included them anyway, I guess. :)) If you want to read more about it, I’ve linked to some stuff or just google it?

    Thanks to all for commentings, and huggs to each of you!! :))

  9. i’m just going by what i heard last night. i’d not heard about the attempted murder charges, though when i heard what was found on her, that’s something i thought, that she intended, or at least thought about killing the other woman. i don’t know. i rarely venture out into the world of news because of the depressing aspects of it. i usually only hear about stuff if it makes it to one of my friends blogs or i happen to click on the news feed that i get on my front page. or sometimes i hear about it from my husband or my parents. sad, i know.

  10. Hmmm Fuzz,

    This is the first I heard about this, too. Quite bizarre, definitely mentally unstable behaviour… This woman is married, with children? Quite honestly my sympathies go out to the male in this scenario, and the pepper-sprayed victim.

    I would hope that NASA would in future more closely screen BOTH men and women, as mental illness isn’t exclusive to females. @@ hugs, G. xo

  11. Voooottt??? Was it a woman???? I mean, I glanced at the stories but never read them and all this time I was thinking it was a guy fighting over a girl. Phew… the world has really changed.

    Whatever happened to the old fashioned chauvinist/ jealous male?? Women are beating us there too….. Do’h!

  12. Well it seems the green-eyed monster is alive and well in Houston.
    I heard on the news today that she and her husband are separated.
    Sure sounds like an extreme case of obsessive/compulsive behavior.
    It is truly a strange world.

  13. Who knows what the full story is. She had to stop for gas….why didn’t she use the restroom then, or at the very least, throw away the two used ones. I guess the diaper thing is the part the we will never forget…sounds so crazy.

    I suspect there is going to be way more to this story. Oefelein hasn’t poked his head up during all this. I have even wondered about drugs, its not uncommon for women to get hooked on prescription drugs. She has obviously lost a lot of weight between the two photographs. It is a shame though.

  14. It is one of the most bizarre stories I’d ever heard – but I think the oddness of the details (diapers, wigs, bbguns) is what will stick with readers – not the idea that women aren’t as qualified as men to (insert act here). I think its the combo of odd details with semi-famous person that has made it a big deal in the first place. As for it causing problems for women trying to advance in the workplace, I think its going to blow over as soon as the next juicy scandal (male OR female) hits.

  15. Hey you, loved the comment about the paper (just so you know I have only read one article in the magazine now nearly a week after buying it) and great to get a mention in your blog page thanks. I feel so privaliged x As for the story I am slightly lost but can understand about the green eyed monster at the moment! Hugs to you,x

  16. Gezzzzz. . .I read about this too and it seems almost too bizarre to be true; almost joke like.
    Mental illness is a strange thing.
    Although I have had brief thoughts while riding in a car after too many cups of morning coffee how much easier it would be to not have to stop, I cann’t imagine diapering myself to avoid the inconvenience.
    I am left wondering how she changed herself?? While she was driving?? Now that is multi-tasking!!

  17. Thanks for all the fab comments!! Jealousy seems to be the consensus, that mixed with mental illness. What a horrible combination! I do feel sorry for everyone involved, really, it’s so tragic to see someone fall so far so fast. I am glad to hear that no one seems to be blaming the guy, though; after all, we may not be able to control anyone else, but we can always control ourselves, our reactions. Unless we’re insane. Besides, this isn’t a crime of passion in the sense that she saw her lover in bed with someone and shot them on the spot . . . she thought about this, drove all that way for all that long. Sigh. Too sad. And her poor kids!! I think, too, that she actually has three, not two kids, as I said; twins who are young and a teenager, I heard on the news.

    Anyway. Huggs all around, and thank you all again for your fab comments; there’s not much else I can add as you all did such a great and comprehensive job of commenting!! :))

  18. Fuzzy, good one again, we discussed this at my office from various angles, but we never thought this will be a blackmark for other women. I don’t think so it will go backwards because of her, there are still too many smart girls out there, they can do their job as good as men. This woman was divorced and something happened to her after that and she was desperate to find another guy. Whether she is an astronaut, she is still a human, this is an aberration I think. People will forget about it quickly. What she did was really abominable I think she has some mental problems. Her career is over, but hopefully she can get back to her life and atleast be helpful in the Grounds. She came this far, hopefully she still has some good things to offer.

  19. What fab comments, Chris! I love how you think. Huggs

    Yes, Barbara, isn’t it awful?

    Yes, Gregg, such a shame.

    Thanks for your comments, Guys!! Huggs all ’round

  20. thanks fuzzy,interesting story…as people have mentioned its tragically funny.
    However, i wouldnt be too pessimistic about the impact it will have on future female recruits to the space program.
    I guess it depends on whether her present clear mental ill health preceded,evolved or were a consequence of her work as a astranaut. That is what we dont know from the sensationalised story on tv.
    News agencies go for the easy kill story line rather than try or attempt to understand the circumstances.
    And i think this histrionic response to what she did will be the more damaging effect on the publics and NASA’s perception of future female recruits
    I’m not defending her…but not quick to judge her either.
    I’m sure the astranaut recruits have to go through a psychological screeening programme to tease out the so called nutters,hehe,and i guess thats what they will have to make more robust in the future to get a good balance of the recruits emotional and cognitive intelligence,both of which is clearly needed.
    rash xx

  21. Hmmm, yes, Rash, I can see that the histrionic response will be what is remembered, but I still wonder if THAT won’t have the same effect? I hope you are right. So glad you’re optimistic in these matters; leaves me free to be the pessimist. :)) Thanks for your fab comments! Huggs.

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